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14 October, 2011

THE MANY USES OF THE WORD "FOOL"

I don't know what there is about the classic works of William Shakespeare that makes you remember parts of certain scenes almost verbatim.  Some of us work Shakespeare expressions into our conversations, even to this day.  One of my favorites from the Merchant of Venus is:  "Still more fool I shall appear, by the time I linger here..."

Truth be known, I think about that expression more often than I verbalize it.  "Still more fool..." comes to mind frequently when I am writing something and wondering how my words will be perceived by the reader..."Am I expressing myself effectively?"  "Am I taking too long to establish my point?"  "Is my thesis off base and ill-conceived?"  In short, "Will I make myself appear foolish by continuing with this subject?"

Some quotes from Shakespeare also leave me wondering about myself.  A good example is:  "A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool."  Makes you think, doesn't it?

The word "fool"  haunted me the other day and prompted me to think about how many expressions or old sayings there were in the English language that included the pejorative term.  Just off the top of my head I came up with a list of 20 expressions, some quotations, that we commonly work into our everyday conversations and I am sure that I only scratched the surface.  Consider these:

A fool and his money are soon parted.
   It takes a fool to argue.
A fool's errand.
   Fool's paradise.
Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.
   Nobody's fool.
Don't suffer fools gladly.
   There's no fool like an old fool.
Don't act the fool.
   Could have fooled me.
Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.
   You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you   
   cannot fool all of the people all the time.  --Abraham Lincoln
Fools look to tomorrow, wise men use tonight.
   Stop fooling around.
Once a fool always a fool.
   I'm a fool to care.
The tongue of the wise uses knowledge, but the mouth of fools pours out foolishess.

If fool-related expressions were not enough, I also found 34 words that incorporated the word "fool" as either a noun, a verb or an adjective.  I don't think that there is any other word that is that versitile.  Here are a few uses of the word, some more common today than others:  befool, befooled, befooling, befoolsfooled, fooleries, foolery, foolfish, foolfishes, foolhardier, foolhardiest, foolhardily, foolhardiness, foolhardinesses, foolhardy, fooling, foolish, foolisher, foolishest, foolishly, foolishness, foolishnesses, foolproof, fools, foolscap, foolscaps, outfool, outfooled, outfooling, outfools, tomfool, tomfooleries, tomfoolery, tomfools.

Well, that's it.  I've fooled around with this subject long enough!  See if you can add to the lists.

O, incidentally, I only quoted half of the Shakespeare expression "Still more fool I shall appear, by the time I linger here..."  The other half is:  "...With one fools' head I came to woo, but I go away with two!"

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